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Want to find a partner to practice English or another language? The OITE wants to help. Join the "OITE-TalkShare" listserv to find a partner. NIH listservs can be found at

The NIH is an international community. Foreign nationals represent approximately 110 countries, and many of the NIH's trainees and staff are not native English speakers. While some people have had adequate opportunities to practice their English either before or after arriving in the U.S., other internationals may discover communication challenges in their labs and social circles. This can leave some of the NIH's best scientists feeling impotent and alienated.

The OITE recognizes that brilliant science alone is not sufficient to take researchers to the next level. Scientists must also be able to communicate comfortably and share their research. While classroom instruction with a native English speaker is often necessary to make improvements, simply having the opportunity to practice speaking English is also essential. It can be hard to find a language-practice partner on one's own, so the goal of this listserv is to bring people together. 

This listserv provides a space for the following activities:

  • 1) VOLUNTEER ENGLISH TUTORING. Native English-speaking volunteers may offer their time to help internationals feel more comfortable with English. Non-Native English-speaking NIH trainees and staff members may request volunteers to help them practice English.
  • 2) LANGUAGE EXCHANGES. Non-native English speaking trainees or staff may arrange a language exchange with a native English speaker. The English speaker may have a particular interest in practicing the foreign language and may want to do a language practice exchange. For example, the pair could meet for an hour and speak English for 30 minutes and Chinese for 30 minutes.  


  • SAFETY: As always, when meeting someone you don't know, meeting in a public space such as a coffee shop or cafeteria is recommended. We discourage people from going into homes of people they do not know.
  • FREQUENCY/DURATION: You may choose to meet with someone one time only, or to establish a regular relationship. The choice is yours. Do your best to communicate effectively with your language partner in the beginning by discussing your plans and goals in order to find an arrangement that works for both of you.
  • NATIVE LANGUAGE: In the event that you can't find a native speaker with whom to practice, consider practicing English with someone else who is not a native speaker. This will help your mind get used to speaking English--that alone is helpful, even if you are not being corrected.
  • CLARITY OF POSTS: We encourage you to BRIEFLY describe when and where you'd like to find a partner in the subject; to state whether you are SEEKING a partner or OFFERING assistance; and to state your most comfortable language(s), if relevant-you can elaborate in the body of the e-mail. For example:
    • Subject: "French-speaker seeks English help Saturdays in Rockville"
    • Body of e-mail: "I am looking for someone who can practice English with me on Saturdays during the day near the Rockville Metro. Native English speakers preferred, but not required. I would be happy to do a language exchange with someone who wants to practice French."

U.S. English Resources

 Suggestions for classes and activities to enhance your ability to communicate with U.S. colleagues

English Communication for Visiting Scientists

 An intensive two-day course to help non-native English speakers communicate more easily with their colleagues in the U.S.